Easyjet rides financial storm

BUDGET airline easyJet, the orange-branded carrier founded by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, yesterday said its aircraft were fuller and that it saw an increase in its airline traffic last month, as demand for bargain flights holds up despite the slump. <br /><br />The company flew 4.66m passengers in July, up from 4.47m in the same period last year. Its load factor, which measures how well airlines fill their seats, rose to 90.3 per cent from 89.3 per cent.<br /><br />But Europe&rsquo;s biggest airline Air France-KLM yesterday said its passenger traffic had dipped by 3.3 per cent in the month, although its load factor rose by 0.7 per cent to 85.1 per cent after it slashed capacity by 4.1 per cent.<br /><br />The airline said the decline in passenger traffic followed a 5.8 per cent drop in the first quarter. <br /><br />The group&rsquo;s cargo business showed a 17.2 per cent decline in traffic, while capacity was cut by 17 per cent, leaving a load factor of 64 per cent.<br />&ldquo;This data confirms the trend towards a stabilisation in cargo activity,&rdquo; Air France-KLM said.<br /><br />The dominance of budget airlines was highlighted earlier this week, when flag carrier British Airways (BA) and bargain-basement rival Ryanair both posted their traffic figures for July.<br /><br />The Irish airline said its traffic reached sky-high record figures, and that it carried 6.7m passengers in the month. It said the continued growth showed that passengers are switching from high-end carriers and opting for low cost deals instead. <br /><br />Meanwhile, BA saw its passenger numbers drop 1.2 per cent to 3.2m, although its load factor increased, 3.1 points to 84.6 per cent.